Project success is one of the most hotly debated topics online and there are many discussions threads and on various platforms. Here is one on LinkedIn that was started by Bill Duncan, the main author of the original PMBOK® Guide.
A Project Management Methodology
We have been working for many years on researching and developing project management standards, methods, and approaches to help practitioners manage projects effectively.
One of the first products of our research and development is The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™ (CAM2P™).
The SUKAD Four Dimensions of Project Success
As we started to work with clients on the above, the question of project success kept coming up. What is success —- project success to be specific? Well – it depends!
I know “it depends” is a cliché but the real answer is it depends on who is asking:
- type of work he or she does,
- Is the person represent a service provider or project owner,
- what is the person role – technical, sponsor, project manager, executive,
- among many other factors.
Our observations of the current state of practice, discussions with clients and executives, working with project managers led us to focus on this topic to study it, which led to the following approach.
Where is the baby and child is this situation?
One of the people commenting on an online discuss on project success posted the following:
“Personally, I do not see any connection between “project success” and “product success”.
In my view, project management is not a “surgical operation, it is a “delivery operation” and I do not see how the “doctor” who delivers a “baby” can be held responsible that the “baby” he/she [successfully] “delivers”, does not turn out not to be a “success” in life, has congenital problems or is not an Einstein or Michael Jordan.”
Here is our response
Although the baby analogy is not a direct fit, let us work with it.
The person posting above is looking at projects and project success from the wrong perspective. He/she is looking at it from the doctor perspective; whereas he should look at it from the parent perspective.
The doctor perspective
Yes, one can somewhat agree that the doctor handling the delivery is responsible to deliver the baby successfully. In this case – delivery might be the only factor to consider.
The parent perspective
On the other hands, the parent of the baby should be mature enough to decide to have and raise a child; hopefully before the pregnancy and the delivery. For the parents, having a baby is not about the “delivery” … it is about raising a child into – at least adulthood. If the parent have the right level of maturity, one would expect that they would raise a child to be a young adult, that contribute to society.
If we stretch the discussion a bit – one could also say if the parents are not mature – they might not be able to raise the child properly and the contribution of the child – becoming adult might be less than desirable or optimal.
Back to Projects!
If we continue with this analogy, a doctor is a service provider, a contractor, a consultant … her job is to deliver the project pet the contract. If the service provider deliver the work per the contract and specification – one can say project is a success … … … but that is from the perspective of the provider – ONLY!
A reader might ask “is not the deliver of the project per the above would also be considered a success from the project owner perspective?”
Yes and no — yes the project could be delivered per the contract and specification successfully —– this is what we call technical success. However the project owner is not only concerned with the output of the project. The project owner is also concerned with the outcome of the project … … … not just the delivery.
What do you all think?